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Selfishness blocking Cabinet formation: diplomats

File - Prime Minister Tammam Salam, right, meets with FPM leader Michel Aoun at the Parliament in Beirut, Tuesday, April 9, 2013. (The Daily Star/Lebanese Parliament Website, HO)

A foreign diplomatic source said several foreign officials have advised Lebanese politicians to take advantage of increasing international and European interest in a stable Lebanon to swiftly form a Cabinet backed by all parties.

The source said foreign officials highlighted the importance of having a government amid fears of a further deterioration in the security situation as Lebanon prepares to hold a presidential election in the spring.

Addressing visiting Lebanese leaders, the source voiced surprise that some politicians were prioritizing their personal interests over national ones.

This behavior, the source continued, has put the country’s future at jeopardy and made it hard to meet the upcoming constitutional deadlines, essential for state-building.

Lebanon is due to hold presidential polls in the spring and parliamentary elections in November.

The source said the politicians’ attitude did not take into consideration the dangerous situation at a time when all countries were showing interest and sending envoys to regional and international powers that have influence in Lebanon in a bid to maintain stability in the country.

The source expressed regret that Lebanese factions were delaying the birth of the new government with disputes over ministerial portfolios, ignoring the fact that United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly had traveled to Saudi Arabia last month in a bid to facilitate the formation of the Cabinet.

Plumbly’s trip resulted in the agreement of the Future Movement, the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance and the Progressive Socialist Party on the 8-8-8 Cabinet formula.

Plumbly is also reportedly making efforts to bridge Iranian-Saudi differences over Lebanon.

Any breakthrough on this front would reflect positively on the Cabinet formation and on other disputes between Lebanese factions, particularly if the Iranian-American nuclear deal and the American-Russian agreement over Syria’s chemical weapons proved resilient.

“After all these efforts to help Lebanon, is it acceptable that some Lebanese parties work on foiling these attempts? Is it possible that the international community is more eager to protect Lebanon than its own people are?” the source said.

The source added that while Plumbly visited Saudi Arabia, British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher and U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale paid separate visits to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Paris. They then met Lebanese officials in Lebanon, after which Hale traveled to Saudi Arabia.

France then sent envoys to Tehran and Riyadh, while Russian Deputy-Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov is expected to arrive in Lebanon soon.

Separately, a Lebanese official was informed by Western sources that great powers were working on protecting Lebanon so that the country would weather the next five months, which Western powers consider decisive.

These efforts have borne fruit, as an international-regional agreement has been reached on supporting the formation of an all-embracing government that would manage the country and prepare for holding the presidential election.

The sources said that Western powers were irritated by the conditions placed by some political factions that were delaying the birth of the government and ruining the international agreement over Lebanon. They also stressed the need for adherence to the Baabda Declaration.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 01, 2014, on page 2.

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Summary

A foreign diplomatic source said several foreign officials have advised Lebanese politicians to take advantage of increasing international and European interest in a stable Lebanon to swiftly form a Cabinet backed by all parties.

The source said foreign officials highlighted the importance of having a government amid fears of a further deterioration in the security situation as Lebanon prepares to hold a presidential election in the spring.

Separately, a Lebanese official was informed by Western sources that great powers were working on protecting Lebanon so that the country would weather the next five months, which Western powers consider decisive.

The sources said that Western powers were irritated by the conditions placed by some political factions that were delaying the birth of the government and ruining the international agreement over Lebanon.


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